Musical Analogy

Every now and then someone talks about “Rockstar Programmers”. Usually when describing the type of programmers he wants to hire. I assume this term is used because saying “exceptionally good programmers” is too long or not sexy enough.

Then, this guy came along and explains that he prefer Jazz programmers. He actually makes one or two good points. Jazz musicians (just like exceptional programmers), play well in different groups, play for fun, and love theory.

But this left me thinking where this leaves us DBAs. What type of musicians are we? Obviously we work in a theory-heavy field, we shoulder an important responsibility, must be extremely detail oriented (unlike those jazz programmers), we are critical in any production system, but our efforts are largely invisible (unless we screw up).

I believe this makes us the Sound Engineers of the IT world.

Note that the traditional rivalry between musicians and sound engineers fits neatly into this analogy. Lots of musicians think that sound engineers are not needed, or they are not sure exactly what sound engineers do except annoy musicians. Lots of sound engineers think that musicians are overpaid prima donnas who don’t even realise that the sound they produce is not production quality and can’t go live without huge amount of additional effort.

Sounds familiar?


5 Comments on “Musical Analogy”

  1. Doug Burns says:


    Thought provoking post.

    My other main interest in life is sound engineering 😉 (and football, of course)

  2. prodlife says:

    Thanks, Doug.

    Didn’t you forgot to mention those cuddly toys as an interest?

    You should write about sound engineering sometime. Do you do recordings? Or mixing?

  3. chris_c says:

    I used to hang about with some sound engineers at university mostly for live events, I’d carry heavy things and wire the lighting rigs up in return for free beer whilst they did arcane and technical things.
    “Dave” was always my favourite to work with as he would carefully cable everything up test every speaker, then if something wasn’t quite right would un-cable everything, carefully recoil every cable and then test every cable/connecter/speaker/mic/etc then re-cable everything, test it again rinse & repeat.
    Was always funny as musicians or directors would start by admiring his thoroughness then get gradually more irate and frustrated as they realised the performance would start in 8..6..4..3.2.1… hours time.

  4. Doug Burns says:

    “Didn’t you forgot to mention those cuddly toys as an interest?”

    I’m trying to forget. They always make Christmas as very demanding time 😉

    “Do you do recordings? Or mixing?”

    I used to have quite a bit of gear in the house and did both, but that was longer ago than I care to recall. I still read Sound on Sound most months, though. Not sure why!

  5. […] into things Oracle, Chen Shapira was thinking about a musical analogy for the DBA. Their not “rockstar programmers” or “jazz programmers”, says […]

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